12DB, Day 11: Ask Conlan

What’s a blog marathon without a rousing edition of everybody’s favorite semi-fake advice column? (Rhetorical question.) That’s right: it’s time for a little… VIEWER MAIL!!

A reader from Carmichael, California writes:

Dear Conlan,

What’s the deal with the Dewey Decimal System? In the internet age, don’t you find it rather archaic and stinky?


My dear friend: I believe you may possess an unclear understanding of history, and thus are very stupid about some things. The Dewey Decimal System (DDS) ((Non-dentist)) is neither archaic nor phlembotic. In fact, it only stinks because it is in the internet age. Allow me to explain.

In 1948, Colonel John Dewey—philosopher, reformer, military strategist—suffered some blunt trauma to the head (not unlike the inventor of time travel) while pole vaulting. The prognosis was very negative, and the world waited with bated breath for news of his condition.

On November 3, 1948, doctors announced Dewey’s full recovery. The Chicago Daily Tribune trumpeted the news with the headline “Dewey Defeats Truma” (read “Trauma”).

President Truman celebrating Dewey’s recovery. The celebration would be short-lived.

Indeed, it was this misspelling that instigated President Harry Truman’s nationwide crackdown on proofreaders. The newly-emptied Japanese internment camps were soon brimming with the nation’s proofreaders (and even some copyeditors!). The move was cheered by railroad barons (of which there were none left) and oil men like J.D. Power and Associates.

However, the Proofreaders’ Union 452 had previously established an alliance with the United Librarians Guild. In protest of this injustice against their compatriots, the nation’s librarians went on strike, fueling anti-Russian sentiment among the general public and bringing book lending to a standstill. (If you think this isn’t making any sense, you must remember: people are dumb. So you might just be dumb.)

After an unsuccessful attempt to prosecute the librarians as communists, Truman finally caved to their demands. He freed the proofreaders and appointed a special committee to get the real commie bastards: Hollywood.

After all of this, Colonel John Dewey felt horrible for having caused such a fracas. As a way of paying back the community, he proposed a new library cataloging system using decimals for no apparent reason. This new system was embraced by librarians across the country, as they enjoyed nothing more than looking down their librarian noses at a library patron slamming a card catalog drawer in frustration.

And that, my friend, is why movie stars never have—and never will—go to the library.